Do you have teens and pre-teens coming to your Thanksgiving celebration? Wondering how to engage them in the festivities without treating them like babies? Wondering how to survive their surly attitudes and lack of enthusiasm without putting them in the blockades? Wondering what you can do to encourage them to put their devices down? Wondering how you can do more than just survive the day?
I am right there with you.
So I am doing the only thing I know to do. I am planning ahead. I am getting down and dirty with intentional parenting. I am stocking up on ideas to keep my two boys involved and busy come Thanksgiving.
Here are some ideas that I plan to implement… If you have any that have worked for you in the past, I would love to hear them!
My boys are pretty artistic and still enjoy Legos and building, so I think making a mini-first Thanksgiving village might suit them. I like these Teepee cupcakes and the log cabin idea from Martha Stewart. I can already see them arranged with Lego figures all around.
Making the Place Cards.
Again, I have boys and they like things like history and ships and battles. So I think for our place cards this year I am going to ask them if they will make these super cute Mod Mayflower. They coud write each family members name on the ship or the flag. For my fellas the key will be me having all the parts pre-cut and ready to go. All they have to do is assemble and label. If you have a pre-teen who really loves to bedazzle this craft could be an all day crafting extravaganza.
Cooking Part of the Meal
Our boys like to cook. In fact Miles has decided he wants to own a food truck when he grows up, so having them help prepare the meal makes sense. I have found that for older kids, the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks are the very best. She gives very clear step-by-step directions along with pages of pictures. If you don’t have her cookbooks no worries – her blog post are the same way. This year Wylie is making her Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Miles is making baguettes.
One of my goals this year is for the boys to stay off the media for the majority of the day (with the exception of the Macy’s Day Parade and the Cowboy’s football game of course.) In preparation I have assembled a variety of lawn games that can be played – Washers, Horseshoes, Croquet. If the weather is too cold or wet then we will break out the Monopoly, but I think we a good hat and a sturdy coat, I think a lot of fun can still be had outdoors on Thursday.
Mocktail Bar Tender
What kid doesn’t love being a mixologist? One fun activity to help keep teens engaged is to put them in charge of keeping guest hydrated. If your kitchen is like mine on Thanksgiving (well-organized chaos) having too many extra people rummaging through the fridge for beverages can be the straw that breaks a patient hostesses back. Try having a variety of beverages and a drink recipe list of tasty “mocktails” (I love this list from Today’s Mama) that the big kids can mix and serve to guest.
Harness the Media for Good
So the kids won’t get off their devices? Well, harness this habit for good. If you have a Chromecast stick, or another device (just ask the kids they will tell you if you do,) that will allow you to stream YouTube on the main television, give the kids the task of finding and playing the best Thanksgiving videos they can find. Funny videos, historical videos, satires, songs, whatever they want to share… The reality is that online life is normal life for our teens, and we will do much better to figure out how to join them in it, rather than fighting it all the time. So this Thanksgiving, show your teens that you care about their world, and ask them to share their expertise with the family – setting the visual playlist for the whole gang!
And finally remember – teens may or may not act as if they enjoy any of the activities they plan for them- but that doesn’t mean they aren’t indeed having a fun. Teen’s have a great way of acting extremely underwhelmed even when they are having a really lovely time. And they will appreciate (even though it might not show for six months,) you taking the time to be intentional about creating a space for them in the celebrations. Feeling wanted and seen is a huge part of how teens feel loved. So go ahead, plan a few teen-specific activities, and don’t be discouraged if they don’t act overly enthused. The good stuff is still getting in there 🙂
Much Love and Good Luck!